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Exchange Comes To Linux As OpenChange

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the native-not-emulated dept.

249

joesmart writes to tell us that new work on OpenChange and KDE seeks to bridge the gap between groupware compatibility and open source. KDE developer Brad Hards spoke at the Linux.conf.au conference and said the goal of OpenChange is to implement the Microsoft Exchange protocols as they are used by Outlook. "OpenChange has client and server-side libraries for Exchange integration and relies heavily on code developed for Samba 4. It is open source software licensed under the GPL version 3. Hards said more work is being done on the client side and 'we have code for the server,' but estimates another 12 months of development is required to produce an OpenChange server ready for production."

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Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

wintermute000 (928348) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674665)

The goal is laudable but strategically speaking: do we really want to focus more OSS efforts to replicate MS protocols and methods?

Whilst a million enterprises out there shrug their shoulders and think 'why would I want to wrestle with this when I could just go along with the AD stack that I know, trust and my MSCE admins love'

Of course they may come out with a fantastic 100% interoperable and virtually bug free product and I'll have to eat my words. But history is not on their side.... also will this have to plug into openldap/kerebos/samba nightmare?

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Funny)

Beached (52204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674703)

Yes, I believe the MS gamebook says to Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish. Or as their competitors liked to say EEE!!!!

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Interesting)

fotbr (855184) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674711)

Its been my experience that IT and admin types are more open to change than end users. Sure, they bitch and moan amongst themselves, but they usually don't raise the type of hell that results when the rest of the staff has to adapt to a change.

So a business might be more open to dropping their (quite pricey) exchange server in favor of this, IF their end users don't see any difference while using Outlook, which they already "know".

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

devman (1163205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674721)

Also worth noting this will be nice for people like me who work in windows shop but would like to run a Linux and actually use exchange functionality from a native client.

Re:Here we go again..... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674999)

Doesn't evolution do that?
This seems to be aimed at developing a server anyway.

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Interesting)

wrecked (681366) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675159)

Exchange 2007 deprecated the Outlook Web Access protocol that Evolution depended on for interoperability. As another Linux user in an Exchange corporate environment, I am anxiously awaiting the day that the Evolution MAPI plugin (which depends on the Samba4 and Openchange libraries) is functional. I've been compiling the development code for the last month, and it's been hit and miss. If anyone is interested: Evolution MAPI tarballs released [wordpress.com] and the Openchange Evolution MAPI blog [go-evolution.org] .

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675189)

Sadly, it's unlikely to work well past t he next Exchange or MS Office upgrade. You _cannot_ maintain compatibility when the primary authors of a product are determined to break your compatibility, and it certainly fits Microsoft's history to do so.

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675463)

Yeah, I was going to say the same thing (redundant me!)
It's just too much of a direct shot across MS's bow for them to ignore. It is one of the BIG reasons users are Stuck with Windows... Outlook/Exchange... It's directly in their best interest to keep it broken.

Re:Here we go again..... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675507)

why should you attempt to maintain compatibility with a product that you don't even make? Wherein lies the corporate logic in that. Someone isn't your customer if you are using another product. You need to get with corporate thinking if you are going to try and reason out Microsoft's logic. There are 3 concerns in corporations profit, profit, and profit. You will learn padawan

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Insightful)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675761)

There is a big difference between not attempting to maintain compatibility and actively going out of your way to break the compatibility.

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Insightful)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675671)

I'm not saying MS doesn't have incentive to break the protocols, but they do have to maintain some sort of compatibility between versions of Exchange. That's because corporations typically update Outlook software across the organization in a continuous fashion and asynchronously from Exchange server upgrades. IT departments would raise bloody hell if MS didn't provide a mostly seamless transition.

Re:Here we go again..... (2, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675215)

It also seems like it might connect to Kontact. If so, well, Kontact is much better than Evolution, last I checked.

Either way, Evolution's Exchange integration sucks, and this is well known and understood.

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

wintermute000 (928348) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674757)

Well at least if its OSS then its zero cost to try it out in the lab, except for time of course.

I'd be interested to see how well it plugs into an otherwise stock MS active directory domain. If it wants to take on MS in their home turf it must get this bit absolutely right.

Also note as MS's embrace extend extinguish approach has brought us all sorts of 3rd party apps that plug into exchange e.g. voicemail to email for VOIP stacks like Cisco CCM, I can only foresee lots of pain

Another point, sure us IT types are more open to this kind of change. We are also (at least those of us in Dilbert corporate land) very wary of the consequences of messing with core systems that are working fine. Despite what Cisco QoS teaches you, email is regarded by your users as tatamount to electricity and plumbing. Until this project gets to a critical mass here like say apache or mysql its an easy sell to management, you will find it hard to justify ripping exchange out for this unknown quantity

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674829)

And since all worthy OSS projects start out at the quality and critical mass of users that apache has accomplished over the years, we shouldn't waste any effort on this one, right?

Re:Here we go again..... (2, Insightful)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675389)

here we go again... missing the key point.

"Well at least if its OSS then its zero cost to try it out in the lab, except for time of course."

Yes, it is the time and labor cost that is the move expensive. What kind of staff do you think it is going to take to truly evaluate and support this kind of project? Let's not even get to the training the staff, installing new software on servers... You're looking at several hundred thousand dollars...

or you can just pay microsoft their regular fee and be done with it.
Think about it this way. An OEM copy of Windows costs 50 dollars.

Assuming a tech support person costs 25 bucks an hour.
All it takes is an extra 2 hours of support/training for a transition to linux to cost as much as simply installing windows. This does not even take into account lost user time dealing with new things.

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675827)

$25 an hour for tech support? I don't think so, more like $9.

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Informative)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675905)

Except Exchange costs a lot more than the $50 copy of Windows. I mean, you've got a valid point. But the example you give completely fails to make it.

And, by the way, a sufficiently large installation of Exchange is going to require quite a bit of work to get right as well.

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675631)

There is also Sarbanes-Oxley and other issues. Part of the costs of keeping "Due diligence" valid by doing Exchange is that Exchange comes with a lot of the features needed for compliance built in. For example, with E2007, it is almost a no brainer to set up archiving and retention so incoming and outgoing E-mail is retained as per laws... laws that are a bad thing to break.

An OSS product is going to have to not just grok the Exchange 2007 protocol, but be able to support features that Exchange offers, from OWA, to replication and clustering (larger installations have one Exchange server on their DMZ and a cluster for their mailboxes.) Most importantly, companies will need to rely on the solution to be able to archive and audit. If a solution can't produce logs when auditors come by, people go to prison, as per HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, or CALEA.

Maybe RedHat could do something like this and get it FIPS/Common Criteria/whatever certified so people have an alternative to Exchange, but until then, a lot of companies will remain tied to it and Active Directory.

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675681)

For example, with E2007, it is almost a no brainer to set up archiving and retention so incoming and outgoing E-mail is retained as per laws... laws that are a bad thing to break.

Equally simple to do with almost any enterprise quality IMAP/SMTP mailer on Linux with a small script.

Re:Here we go again..... (3, Insightful)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675729)

What would be more likely to fly would be a feature complete client to exchange. Email - no problems but it is still a headache to get calendar and contact information. Where Exchange and Outlook rule is integrating this all into one place, and now Comms server brings in voice and chat/IM, yet more systems MS has tied into a Windows client by extending a set of open protocols so that noone else is compatible 100%

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Informative)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675117)

Having Linux as a backend server for Windows workstations is a wonderful thing for a corporation.

It saves them a lot of money. Do you know what 1000 Windows 2008 Server client and Exchange Server client licenses cost? Well use Linux with SAMBA and OpenChange for less than the cost of a bottle of water. Beat that, Microsoft, and managers who always try to justify Microsoft software over Linux software.

Re:Here we go again..... (2, Interesting)

SdotBrucato (1450093) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675237)

How easy is it to find someone that is proficient in these software alternatives? Yes, licensing may be cheaper, but what about the training involved, the lost productivity in trying to figure out something that is different then your average AD stack? And the kicker... support. I know my boss likes to be able to say "heh, it's broken lets call * and have the remote in and see what the hell is going on. He doesn't want to hear "hey let me jump on the public forums and hope someone knows how to fix this" Support costs dollars. . .

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675247)

Wow, I guess you haven't been around long enough to pay Microsoft huge yearly amounts for support contracts to have them say to one of your problems "We have no idea. Good luck." Give me OSS anyday.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675605)

So... you're saying that because a lot of people pay through the ass to use something that still breaks and use suppose, you should pay for it and like it? Great logic there.

Support costs money, true. May as well not pay for the product if you have to pay to support it anyway, right?

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675691)

Yes, licensing may be cheaper, but what about the training involved...

If your company is employing sysadmins who require training before they can deploy a new bit of software, they're doing something horribly wrong.

Re:Here we go again..... (3, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675897)

You are, of course, aware that the support available when you license Exchange is very limited indeed and you have to pay a substantial amount of money for further support?

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675767)

IF their end users don't see any difference while using Outlook, which they already "know".

It always surprises me how much crying goes on from end users when they are forced to learn something new. Especially as it's their job to learn a new system if/when it is introduced.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675769)

I would like to point out that it is normally a minority, but still.

Re:Here we go again..... (2, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675955)

It always surprises me how much crying goes on from end users when they are forced to learn something new. Especially as it's their job to learn a new system if/when it is introduced.

Most people absolutely hate change. Change in computer systems doesn't really intimidate the average /.'er but for someone who doesn't really understand anything about their computer and just knows "click the third menu across, fifth item down" or "The document I was working on is stored next to the dog in the background's nose", change is a real pain.

If you want a beautiful example of this, look at how people feel if their Windows profile gets corrupted.

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674723)

The goal is laudable but strategically speaking: do we really want to focus more OSS efforts to replicate MS protocols and methods?

If you want to telecommute, you need to be able to access your work email. If your company is one of the many who use Exchange, you have to use a client that can talk to it. Having a native Linux client that can do this would mean that you wouldn't have to run Windows, even in a VM box if you didn't want to, just to get your work email.

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674985)

It's called Outlook Web Access and Outlook Anywhere....it's been around a while...look into it.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675057)

So what do you do in cases where OWA isn't available? A lot of shops don't use it internally or care to allow access via OWA externally.

Re:Here we go again..... (2, Informative)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675099)

Have you ever had to use Outlook Web Access?

It's absolutely god awful. No search function, (nice if you get 30 emails a day, none of which is relevant until three weeks later), only able to attach one file at a time, ugly, slow, lacking offline functionality.

Maybe some newer version has fixed all these things, we of of course will not be upgrading to it because the only thing keeping the Exchange server stable is the fact that we never so much as look at it wrong.

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Informative)

jargon82 (996613) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675203)

The current versions have searching (pretty fast, too). The interface is fast and responsive. A lot of the old complaints I've had about it are gone. I'm not sure what you mean by attaching one file at a time... afaik, it hasn't had such a restriction since 2000 at least. It's not perfect, it's not a substitute for a day to day local client, but it's certainly better than a lot of the webmail solutions I've seen... not to mention having your contacts already there is useful for what (to me) is a backup email system for when I don't have access to my fat client.

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675677)

"The current versions have searching (pretty fast, too)." In IE, not FireFox, which can I sugeest it ?, they might have done on purpose ?

Re:Here we go again..... (2)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675291)

All of those complaints that you have are resolved with the version of OWA that my employer uses. They've been using it since at least 2005.

FYI: I use Firefox with OWA, so I get the "Light" client. IDK what the IE client looks like... it's probably even nicer.

Re:Here we go again..... (1, Interesting)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675825)

the company i used to work at recently decided to move to exchange. it has been a disaster, but they refuse to see it. in the ca. 6 months they've been using it, it's been offline for at least a fortnight in total. at some stage i quite regretted my refusal to become dependent on exchange, because it meant that i could work while others had the day off. i'm usually a free software advocate and don't think that much of the open-sourcers, but in this case they certainly have a point.

the web email i find terribly unintuitive. i sometimes had to search for minutes to find the functionality i needed. in the end it was often quicker to print the email i wanted to send and then put it on the desk of the recipient.

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675975)

Unless it's a large company (say, 500+), your IT admins are incompetent.. :/

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675223)

It's not always there, and it's far from perfect.

Probably not as bad as Outlook in a VM... probably.

This is why I always used IMAP to access the Exchange server, when I worked in a Windows shop. Native support for the rest of it would probably be a Good Thing.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675051)

even in a VM box if you didn't want to

Funny you should mention that; virtual machines have been the only place I've run Windows in several years, and only in cases where a job assignment absolutely required a Windows box. I always support efforts to bring more native interoperability to Linux clients.

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

Raul Acevedo (15878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674749)

The goal is laudable but strategically speaking: do we really want to focus more OSS efforts to replicate MS protocols and methods?

Yes, we do.

Why do you think Microsoft has such a stranglehold on the corporate desktop? Outlook and Exchange are the cornerstone of that lock. It's brilliant if you can produce a true Outlook replacement; that means everybody's email and calendars can stay the same. If you try to introduce a brand new calendering/email system, you have to deal with migration, and that is a ridiculously huge headache affecting the entire organization. Not to mention all the retraining and retooling (and likely re-hiring) you have to do with a new server architecture...

No wonder nobody does it.

If you can replace the client, you are much more likely to have clients that can talk to multiple back ends (e.g. Exchange or an open source alternative). Then you have the real possibility of replacing the back end much more transparently at a later date.

Unfortunately this two step solution is, for the next few years, the only real way it could possibly happen in most companies.

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

wintermute000 (928348) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674781)

good points, I must admit I glossed over the client side and was thinking primarily on the server side.

Having said that though I find exchange web interface perfectly adequate, although of course its tied to IE for full functionality (shakes fist at MS)

On the client side, I ask another (possibly stupid) question: how is this different from say Evolution's exchange plugin (which I have used via https and from what I could tell, it did what it said on the tin, if slow as molasses)

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Informative)

Gojira Shipi-Taro (465802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674851)

Well, having used Evolution's exchange plugin, I'm hoping that the project being discussed isn't slow as you describe, and doesn't leak resources like a sieve and crash frequently like Evolution.

As far as I can tell Evo development is so close to dead as to be unable to be distinguished from it.

I'm happily working in a company that is not married to exchange at the moment, but what is described in this article is something that could have made my previous job a lot more pleasant.

Evolution sucks so bad that my solution in that job was to run windows and office under VMWare and use THAT for my email. running VMware and a whole other OS virtualized under a Linux host was faster and leaked less resources than Evolution.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675745)

Lazst time I tried Evolution plugin it worked, briefly, then a recurring appointment cause Evolution to eat all the memory in the machine.
Second try, would not talk to Exchange 2003, and nothing for 2007 8)
To me, the best bet for an Exchange competitor is with Groupwise, as there is an outlook plugin to get it to talk to a groupwsie server, and there is the client for Windows, Linux and OS X. You can get aftermail, groupwise fax solutions and Blackberry gateways. There is nothing else I know of like this ou there, free or commercial.

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674913)

Well, Exchange is *part* of the reason people get locked into MS products. But the bigger reason, by far, is Active Directory.

AD *works*. It's easy. It integrates seamlessly with Windows. The management tools are good, and easy to use. There are tons of third-party products that integrate with it. Seamlessly.

The current LDAP/Kerberos/Samba situation is a fucking MESS. It's unusable in a production environment. It's hard to manage. It doesn't have GROUP POLICIES, for Christ's sake.

Samba 4 supposedly fixes some of these problems, but I doubt it comes even CLOSE to providing all the functionality of a genuine Windows Server OS.

THAT is why people are locked into MS products. They simply work better than the alternatives in many cases, especially on a corporate LAN.

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674961)

I have just finished installing Samba4 alpha6 on my network (I already have LDAP+Kerberos set up). I can say that it's pretty impressive.

I was able to setup it as AD controller and join my notebook to it without a problem, single sign-on and ability to SSH into my Linux servers without entering login/password also rocks. AD management tools also work just fine. And Samba4 setup actually was not that scary at all :)

I'd say that in ~1 year we'll really have nice working replacement of Exchange+AD, compatible with legacy Windows clients.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

DanJ_UK (980165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675457)

I'd say that in ~1 year we'll really have nice working replacement of Exchange+AD, compatible with legacy Windows clients.

It'll be interesting to see how well Apple implements Exchange protocols / support into OSX / Mail etc.

Re:Here we go again..... (5, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675251)

AD *works*. It's easy. It integrates seamlessly with Windows. The management tools are good, and easy to use.

Like ALL Microsoft products and technologies... Active Directory is pretty easy to get into a minimally working state if you like all the defaults. And isn't too difficult to get it to do some of the lowest-common-denominator simple tasks that everybody wants, like single sign-on, roaming profiles, and a few policy restrictions.

AD isn't really "easy" unless your time is worthless, and you don't mind insane problems cropping up. You're going to be browsing around context menus, sub-sub-sub-sub options with utterly insane names and absolutely no comprehensible scheme, to find the one option you want to toggle.

God help you if you want some slight variation of how Microsoft thinks it should work, because you've just gone from "easy" to "practically impossible" and are going to be delving into the darkest realms of the registry, and deeply hidden configuration menus and files.

I know plenty of companies who think Windows servers are easy, and work well... Plenty of them have hired me to get them to stop "working" the way they do.

Whatever time and money you think you've saved by going with Windows servers goes out the window the first time you try to copy a very big file to a Windows Share, only to have it fail at 2GBs... Yes, Windows quietly decides your gigabit LAN is a dial-up link, and decides to go for the slow, high-delay, 2GB filesize limit variation of SMB. Samba never does.

The current LDAP/Kerberos/Samba situation is a fucking MESS. It's unusable in a production environment. It's hard to manage. It doesn't have GROUP POLICIES, for Christ's sake.

I have no idea what you are talking about. You can manage group policies on a Samba server with some of Microsoft's own management tools (ie. from a Windows workstation that logs-on to the domain).

And once you've got Samba setup, it will silently work, exactly how you configure it to do so, forever. A Windows server will require CONSTANT attention, as weird one-off bugs continually spring up, performance suddenly drops dramatically one day, and slowly starts recovering over the next week, but never quite gets back where it was. Never mind the standard Windows practice of quietly disabling/corrupting one driver or another for no particular reason. And did I mention the utterly useless error messages, and logs with lots of useless information and NONE of the HELPFUL information you could possibly use.

THAT is why people are locked into MS products. They simply work better than the alternatives in many cases, especially on a corporate LAN.

No. They just sound better when you're reading the spec sheet, and trying to get a basic server minimally working...

The fact that Windows is popular with numerous companies is actually a sad commentary on corporations, who go for the quick way to save a buck, and ignore the vast amount Microsoft costs them over time.

Re:Here we go again..... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674799)

Exchange calendaring is used all over the place. I have the freedom to run Ubuntu on my laptop but have to maintain a windows VM solely for exchange calendaring. I've tried some of the alternatives for integration but the only way I can play nice with the conference room scheduling and such is to have the real thing.

I applaud whoever can get me a reasonable fully functional integration package for Exchange. Period. It will be the final nail in the the coffin on the client side for me. Then I can work on the server side :)

Re:Here we go again..... (0, Redundant)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674891)

What's nightmarish about OpenLDAP, Kerberos and Samba? I run this combination on my home LAN. Couldn't be easier.

Re:Here we go again..... (3, Insightful)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674939)

It's a mess to get it all working properly and to get Windows clients to swallow it.

While I applaud their laudable goals, I don't see this making it very far. In 12 months, Exchange 2010 will probably be out and they will continue to play catch up. Also, it needs to drop into Active Directory without Windows AD servers not complaining and Outlook clients not noticing a change. For most businesses, no email world stops and price of Exchange is worth it to many businesses.

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Insightful)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675081)

What's nightmarish about OpenLDAP, Kerberos and Samba? I run this combination on my home LAN. Couldn't be easier.

Key words being home LAN. In a corporate LAN, or even a mid-size company network, management of these alternatives quickly becomes a nightmare. Stuff just doesn't work quite right with the Windows clients, and you don't have key components of Windows management available, like Group Policy Objects. Might be good enough for your hobby network at home, but multiply that across a couple thousand clients and it's not exactly fun.

I'm all about cutting costs by going open source wherever I can, but Active Directory, when you're dealing with a Windows environment, just works. The headaches and time I'd waste trying to get the current LDAP/Kerberos/Samba "alternative" working well enough that we wouldn't be getting flooded with calls about stuff not working how the users expect, greatly exceeds the cost of just implementing and maintaining Active Directory.

There's some hope that Samba4 will fix a lot of that, and after it's released I'll look at it again.

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674917)

>The goal is laudable but strategically speaking: do we really want to focus more OSS efforts to replicate MS protocols and methods?

If one wants to serve Windows client machines, one has no choice BUT to replicate MS protocols and methods.

If one can make a server to serve Windows client machines without CALs, customers have incentive to buy into that.

If one has the server software, one can then make that server serve Windows, Mac AND Linux clients as "equals". All with no CALs.

This would be an attractive solution for bushinesses, one would think.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675041)

I agree 100%, and I will add that the moral of the story is that even though this is interesting, the buggy initial release won't even happen for another 12 months.... and so we just keep windows and exchange until then.... and if not, well, we've already go our alternate option figured out, so wtf is the point?

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

RazzleDazzle (442937) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675075)

The goal is laudable but strategically speaking: do we really want to focus more OSS efforts to replicate MS protocols and methods?

Perhaps I missed it but I did not see your name on the developers list for OpenChange? How is it you think "we" includes yourself. One of the beautiful things about FOSS is that anyone person or group of people can get together on work on things that THEY want to do or find investors to pay them to do. You speak as if all of the FOSS developers in the entire world get together to discuss and plan out new projects to tackle and this is turned out to be one of them that you are personally now second guessing due to it being based on replicating functionality of a MS product, which apparently is all the reason to not do it. As if anything MS comes up with is horrible just because it is from MS.

Re:Here we go again..... (4, Interesting)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675101)

I think the best strategy to ween companies over to Linux is to replace each Microsoft product they use with a free or open source version of that product.

Why you may ask?

The answer is simple, they want to keep their Windows workstations and change the server over to Linux, without missing features. One of the arguments corporations had against using Linux was that it did not support MS-Exchange protocols so they could keep their Outlook clients and have shared calendars and shared email files.

I suppose next is modifying My-SQL or PostgresSQL to support Transact-SQL the SQL language that MS-SQL Server uses.

Novell Mono already tries to replace Microsoft Visual Studio with Linux, Mac OSX, etc versions, and while they may need some rewriting of code, legacy Visual Studio code can be ported over to Linux for those custom made applications.

When I worked at a law firm in 1997-2001 I used Internet Explorer 4/5/6 and VBScript and ActiveX controls for web Intranet applications using Active Server Pages. I told my manager that the employees who use Macintoshes cannot access our Intranet applications unless we wrote in Javascript and used Java instead of ActiveX. He told me it was nonsense. I said if we had clients who needed to connect to our Intranet and they ran OS/2, Linux, *BSD Unix, or Mac OS 7/8/9 whatever that they couldn't connect. He didn't believe me and told me to never develop in Java and only use Javascript when it could do something better or faster that VBScript couldn't do like some Dynamic HTML features.

Then the Mac users complained why the Intranet apps wouldn't work on their Macs. I told them to ask my manager, as the decision to support the technology that works for their computers was not my decision.

Then in 2001, they decided to use ASP.NET in beta tests to be cutting edge technology and use server side objects to solve the incompatibility issues.

Eventually I got too sick to work and went on short term disability, and when I returned to work I was fired two weeks later for being sick on the job. (The stress upset my GERD and made me throw up in trashcans when I couldn't make it to the bathroom) and security quickly escorted me out of the building.

Two months later my coworkers begged me to reapply for my job back, that the whole Intranet went to shit because I used to debug every Intranet program and Visual BASIC program, and now that they started to write new code without me, the system would crash 12 or more times a day and they even had code they couldn't compile. I told them I couldn't go backward, if they needed me that bad they should not have fired me, besides the stress of the job got to me. I was Atlas for the programmers and held everything up on my own shoulders so everything worked like it should. Eventually they had clients with Linux, OS/2, BeOS, Mac OS, etc. I recall reading on the Microsoft Newsgroups when I searched for their domain name, all of the issues they had and asking Microsoft why ASP.NET and VS.NET does not work as well as the ones they replaced and does not have all of the features they promised.

I think I am better off on disability now, than working some thankless job and carrying most of the programmers because they hardly knew what they were doing. Why I chose to go on disability rather than risk another job that could only make me sicker and cause a stroke or heart attack due to high stress causing high blood pressure. If I didn't do that, I'd most likely have died on the job with a stroke or heart attack, or been paralyzed due to a stroke, or go without a job and lose the house. On relief I get is from friends and family who help out, plus my local church. If not for that support system, and it isn't money, but emotional support and activities, I am not sure what I'd do. Maybe kill myself like one of my friends did in 1999 who had the same mental illness disability that I have, he shut everyone out of his life divorced his wife, his mother was dying of cancer, he stopped going to church, and just sat home and drank vodka instead of looking for a new job or going on disability as nobody wanted to hire him. One day he drank a whole bottle of vodka and got a shotgun and killed himself with it. Ever since I have vowed not to go out like that, and no matter what suffering, I will live for God, my family, my friends, and the community I live in. That is why I want to be a survivor instead of just another victim.

So making a Linux program that duplicates what a Microsoft program is one more argument against Linux that is shot down.

Heck, I hope that Thunderbird gets OpenChange support and can connect to Exchange servers as well. That way they will have an Exchange client that is more secure than Outlook.

Re:Here we go again..... (3, Interesting)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675359)

I suppose next is modifying My-SQL or PostgresSQL to support Transact-SQL the SQL language that MS-SQL Server uses.

I'll probably get flamed, but I actually like T-SQL better than vanilla SQL for most uses. Although I try to avoid SQL altogether when possible, so I may not be a representative sample.

Re:Here we go again..... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675633)

Wow. When I started to read your comment, I was expecting to see some reasons why you shouldn't try to duplicate Microsoft's features and expect 100% drop-in compatibility. I got that and a whole lot more.

Well, glad you were able to keep on living your life. I know I'm a total stranger, but from one human being to another, I'd like to thank you for sharing your story. I'm a little more thankful that I haven't experienced any situation like yours yet.

Re:Here we go again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675183)

Replication of MS protocols is more important than you'd think.

One of the biggest obstacles to switching to open-source software is interoperability and compatibility. If OSS is incompatible with your current systems, switching becomes an all-or-nothing proposition - and that often gives Microsoft the advantage.

Basically, the more cross-platform compatibility we can develop, the faster Linux and other open-source software will gain market share.

Re:Here we go again..... (3, Insightful)

Bonobo_Unknown (925651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675399)

Exchange is Microsoft's last fortress protecting the enterprise. If we could run an Exchange clone on Linux it would be so much easier to ditch all the rest of the Microsoft suite.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675471)

you're looking at it the wrong way. They're not replicating it, they're freeing people from Microsoft oppression by rewriting software that shouldn't cost like $2000 a copy. What I'm a little unhappy about is naming it Open Change. Oh come on, could they make it sound any more like Hope 'n Change. That's a blatant copy. Logically it should have been named Open Exchange after Open Office of course. Most of these Linux people are really, really angry and hostile when it comes Microsoft so why the pathetic name? I think they're wimping out in case of a law suit. I would have named it "Exchange Sucks, Use This" or ESUT for short and I would have actually typed the name with my balls lol.

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

spion666 (922711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675553)

Perhaps the name Currentchange would be better.

Re:Here we go again..... (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675535)

The goal is laudable but strategically speaking: do we really want to focus more OSS efforts to replicate MS protocols and methods?

Something like Wine will be really helpful to the linux movement when some boxed software has in it's requirements list: XP, Vista, 7, and Wine 1.x compatible. If linux gain more, it may come! And it doesn't have to gain as much as if the software makers were forced to do a total rewrite. Once that happens, Linux has its foot in the door. And microsoft cannot change the API too much without breaking backwards compatibility and pissing off a ton of customers.

The end goal isn't to run Windows compatible apps but to make the transition to Linux easier. If Openexchange achieves the same thing, more power to them.

In an ideal world, Microsoft would conform to Open standards. But since this isn't an ideal world, and Microsoft has majority market share, open standards can, from time to time, conform to it.

Re:Here we go again..... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675593)

In these times we are living in, with the end of the Capitalism as we knew it, and a huge economic depression, I don't think any serious business will want to spend time with a bunch of OSS geeks and our failure-prone apps. The guessing work involved on an OSS deployment takes too much time and businesses just don't have the time and the money to waste with nice "save the world" types of software.
So, as the majority of the companies will stick with MS software, thanks to the professional support and as they already have them deployed and don't have to change their business rule, I guess the initiative of making a fully interoperable Exchange Unix based alternative is valid.
I know we geeks will always dream of the "Year of the Linux", but as the western civilization is ending I don't think there is enough time to keep those dreams anymore...

Re:Here we go again..... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675893)

How about: because as far as I know the only companies likely to be pure "not-Windows" shops are Sun and Apple? Even then they'll have Windows systems in their labs for interoperability testing.

On the other hand, there are millions of "pure-Windows or must integrate with so seamlessly it may as well be" companies.

Itches that need scratching are more likely to be related to "how can I get this functionality to work without shelling out for the Microsoft product?" than "what can I do from scratch so much better than any other product?"

Kontact is cool. (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674667)

If by "KDE integration" they mean Kontact, I'm all for that.

Mostly because of the design -- Kontact looks and feels like a monolithic, Outlook-esque application. Instead, it merely combines pieces you already have as standalone programs -- KMail, Akregator, KOrganizer, and so on.

Re:Kontact is cool. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674907)

Indeed, Kontact is cool. (Or would that be kool? ;) But that's because it uses KParts, which is, in and of itself, cool.

People who implement new KDE filemanagers because Konqueror "does too much" just don't get it. It's a modular design.

Re:Kontact is cool. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675239)

that's because it uses KParts, which is, in and of itself, cool.

They are, especially because so much of KDE seems to use them properly.

But I'm still curious exactly what makes them so special. Aren't they just embeddable GUI widgets? Is that really such a unique concept?

People who implement new KDE filemanagers because Konqueror "does too much" just don't get it.

I don't know that I've seen that done, aside from Dolphin, and Dolphin and Konqueror share a KPart. Unless I'm missing something, Dolphin is all about providing a different UI.

Re:Kontact is cool. (2, Insightful)

sskang (567081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675785)

KParts is a non-unique concept implemented pragmatically, leading to KDE devs actually using it.

The entire framework, from querying, instantiating and integrating KParts is optimised for the common case, ie shared libraries used in-process on the local machine, which means it's easy to learn and use.

Other attempts such as Bonobo and the erstwhile KOM/OpenParts were designed for maximum flexibility but didn't catch on because they made developers' lives difficult for these common cases.

Re:Kontact is cool. (1)

synnthetic (103582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675169)

About your sig..

Cedar Falls got lucky with fiber years ago.. PA is lucky to have DSL in the rural spots.. after the whole Adelphia thing.

Re:Kontact is cool. (1)

synnthetic (103582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675193)

err.. Fairfield, IA. Close enough. Point is.. Iowa had some awesome state laws that let communities jump ahead years ago.

But can they make it suck as much? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674671)

It is nice to emulate Exchange, but raising it to the level of suk that MS achieves would be a labor of decades.

(You gonna mod this troll or funny? Huh? What ya gonna do, boy?)

--
open source governance [metagovernment.org]

Re:But can they make it suck as much? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674825)

I modded it Overrated. In your FACE!

Re:But can they make it suck as much? (0, Flamebait)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675077)

You're still at -1 Troll, boyeeeeeee.

It's Change We Can Belive In (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674745)

It's Change We Can Belive In

HOPE

Integrate with existing FOSS groupware (4, Interesting)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674863)

I had a conversation with one of the openchange developers a few months ago to talk about some of the architecture being built here, and was pleased to find out that they're aiming to do something useful. They do want OpenChange to be useful as a standalone server. That gets you something Outlook can talk to. But they're also going to expose all of the right API's and stuff so that OpenChange can be integrated with an existing store or server. That means that with the right amount of glue code, we'll be able to integrate it with existing open source groupware servers like Citadel [citadel.org] or Kolab [kolab.org] or OpenGroupware [opengroupware.org] . All of these servers currently have Outlook compatibility, but you need to add a plugin to Outlook in order to make it work. With any luck, OpenChange will allow Outlook to talk to all of these excellent FOSS groupware platforms as if they were Exchange servers.

(Not that I'm knocking the plugins, mind you ... some of them are excellent. I'm particularly fond of Bynari's connector [bynari.net] which is totally seamless, works with open source groupware servers, and costs far less than Exchange licenses. But a connector-free option will be nice too.)

What about Evolution? (1)

nlann (1125759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674885)

I've been using Evolution and the Exchange plugin to connect to my company's Exchange server.

I can access mail and online calendar with not much problem. There are some annoyances, but I can live with them.

I would prefer OpenChange and Evolution work together in improving the already existing stack instead of creating a new one...

Re:What about Evolution? (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674905)

Are you able to book conference rooms or schedule meetings? This is where Evolution becomes a roadblock for me.

Re:What about Evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675065)

Yeah, I've been running Evolution with the Exchange plugin for a couple of years and can book resources, schedule meetings, grab people from the GAL and even check their free/busy status. I was running Outlook on and off in xover-office but dumped it for good about a year ago. Haven't had any issues.

Re:What about Evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675121)

Doesn't work with Exchange 2007.

Fingers crossed (2, Interesting)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674899)

It's amazing how MS is so successful in making NOT having their products very inconvenient. Evolution almost works. I still kick and scream when someone asks me to set up a meeting. Think about how those MS users must feel. Here is one of the "Tech" team, and he has trouble:

*Scheduling Meetings
*Printing from time to time
*Dealing with Spreadsheets on a share drive

I will keep my Linux desktop at work, but boy do I envy those "Blue Pill" MS users.

NO CHANCE for this to work (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26674949)

This is a space that I've observed for a long long time. I can assure you that if anyone ever gets even remotely close to a replacement for Outlook against an Exchange server (or Exchange against an Outlook client), Microsoft will change the APIs so fast your head will spin off and fly away.

MAPI, AD and such are PROPRIETARY protocols folks, and Microsoft knows they are the keys to the kingdom. That's why all the Exchange clients ever created work ok at the start, but before they can really get going they fall back several steps. Then they arrive at the real problem of playing catch-up every time Microsoft breaks them. The customers and users don't blame Microsoft because Outlook and Exchange still work (as well as they do, anyway) -- the fury is pointed at the third party software that promised a way out of the Exchange but failed to deliver.

Remember "Windows ain't done until Lotus don't run." That play works.

Re:NO CHANCE for this to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675157)

You are 100% correct here. Even if somebody closely replicates the Microsoft protocols, there's an army of lawyers at the ready to defend their IP.

As much as I dislike Microsoft's business practices, AD and Exchange work EXTREMELY WELL. Not only do they work well, there is no other competition even remotely close to being as good. Before you nay-say, I actually DO support an AD system of 50k+ users. It's not perfect but no viable alternative is anywhere close to being ready.

Re:NO CHANCE for this to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675173)

"Windows ain't done until Lotus don't run" was proven to be a load of bollocks [proudlyserving.com] years ago.

Re:NO CHANCE for this to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675443)

This is a space that I've observed for a long long time. I can assure you that if anyone ever gets even remotely close to a replacement for Outlook against an Exchange server (or Exchange against an Outlook client), Microsoft will change the APIs so fast your head will spin off and fly away.

MAPI, AD and such are PROPRIETARY protocols folks, and Microsoft knows they are the keys to the kingdom. That's why all the Exchange clients ever created work ok at the start, but before they can really get going they fall back several steps.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1064 [zdnet.com]

http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2007/12/antitrust-pact-payoff-samba-gets-protocols-from-microsoft.ars [arstechnica.com]

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13580_3-9836784-39.html [cnet.com]

http://news.samba.org/announcements/pfif/ [samba.org]

You are quite a bit out of date with that thought.

Re:NO CHANCE for this to work (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675643)

They'll have to remain backwards compatible, which leaves a nice big hole open, and there are a bunch of lawsuits in both the EU and the US against Microsoft about their monopoly status, and most of the remedies involve Microsoft opening and documenting their communications protocols. Like MAPI and AD. Until MS stops pissing off governments it will be under a very big microscope, and they'll be expected to help projects like this be implemented with proper protocol documentation.

Re:NO CHANCE for this to work (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675775)

Well, problem is, Exchange doesn't fall under the 'have to document' protocols and so they didn't.

Actually it turns out to be a pretty crappy protocol with bad security and buggy implementations from Microsoft.

Re:NO CHANCE for this to work (1)

ejdmoo (193585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675903)

http://www.microsoft.com/protocols/ [microsoft.com]

Actually, it does fall under that category.

Just use Zimbra!? (4, Informative)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674955)

Seriously, just go buy a Zimbra license. Runs on Linux, does everything exchange does, not too pricey and it works great with outlook clients. Shared calendar, great web gui, etc. Oh yeah and they are owned by Yahoo now so you can feel like you're supporting the newly crowned Internet underdog while you're at it.

Re:Just use Zimbra!? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675005)

That's what I'm talking about. I run zimbra at work and we have the network edition and nobody even uses the outlook connectors. Everything runs great on it. You can sync your mobile phone to it with no problems. I haven't had any downtime for over a year. I would never run exchange or want something that looks like exchange.

Re:Just use Zimbra!? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675017)

Have you actually _tried_ to use Zimbra Desktop??? It's SLOW and leaks tons of memory.

Outlook is so much much much nicer. Also, Outlook is VERY customizable, especially with the help of Outlook forms. That's also why it's so hard to write free connectors/emulators for Exchange.

Re:Just use Zimbra!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675271)

Are you talking about the offline client? I've been using the Zimbra web client for over a year and a half after deploying it at my company and it's worked fantastically for me and the others that use it. Some are still attached to Outlook, but once people try the web client they rarely go back.

Re:Just use Zimbra!? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675409)

Yes, I'm talking about their "Zimra Desktop" client. I hate it with passion.

Web clients are not always desirable/possible.

Re:Just use Zimbra!? (1)

Dice (109560) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675329)

I remember when Yahoo! was cool.

And in 10 years... (-1, Troll)

wampus (1932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26674977)

When they hit 1.0, it will be 80% compatible with Exchange as it is today.

Re:And in 10 years... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26675145)

SUP MA NIGGAAAAAAA!

Exchange isn't the only concern though... (1)

thousandinone (918319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675323)

Depending on the field, there are a number of applications that tie into an exchange environment beyond just the email client. I'm talking things like (VOIP based) voicemail to email, Blackberry Enterprise Server, and their ilk.

For the record, I hate blackberries, and would actually recommend a windows mobile device over a blackberry any day. In how many corporate environments, however, does the IT department get to call the shots in that manner? No, in reality, if the CEO and the other board members want blackberries, they're going to get them, and a BES to support them.

So is there any chance for supporting other apps that work with exchange, or is this just jury rigged to the point that outlook recognizes it as Exchange?

Re:Exchange isn't the only concern though... (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675413)

Not only apps, but programming paradigms and support. I do 90% of my programming in linux, but that other 10% is for work stuff. 90% of the 10% I do for work is for "one off" applications. Visual Studio means that I can make a "one off" application in next to no time (and, have it properly structured and documented). If the application gets used enough I will get the go ahead to implement it in C++, if warranted; or update the C#/WinForms/VB or whatever, tightening the code and possibly abstracting it more.

I could do the same in Linux and using frameworks or languages such as Qt, Gtk or mono... but for really quick prototyping, I find that Visual Studio wins hands down (for any of the supported languages). I actually prefer KDevelop for the 90% of my work, but for the other 10% at work I use VS.

Citadel (4, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675377)

Hmm, Citadel with the Bynari connector already does all that Exchange does. You can literally replace dozens of Excange servers with a single Citadel server and the users won't know the difference.

Zarafa already has a lot of exchange features. (2, Informative)

gambit73 (1366437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26675803)

If you want a replacement of Exchange and you don't want to wait a year, you could look at Zarafa. www.zarafa.com
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